Following a ruling by World Sailing, the International Etchells Class Association has confirmed that 25 boats produced by Pacesetter Etchells Pty since 2011 from Mould 11 are not valid Etchells Class Yachts under the Class Rules.
World Sailing (WS) has issued an Interpretation of the Etchells Class Rules, stating, among other things, that:
a) The IECA Class Rules require WS’s approval of moulds
b) Having a Hull Certificate alone renders a boat neither eligible to compete nor built in compliance with the Class Rules, and
c) Simply meeting the measurement criteria of the Class Rules renders a boat neither eligible to compete nor built in compliance with Class Rules.
M11 was built by Innovation Composites Pty under subcontract to Pacesetter in 2011. To date, 25 boats have been built from M11, and have been shown using laser scan technology to be significantly different in shape than Etchells Class Yachts.
Specifically they have a longer water line, less rocker, a higher degree of bilateral symmetry, and more buoyancy in the ends. World Sailing has already established that M11 was never validated or registered by World Sailing.
The International Etchells Class Association of Australia (IECAA) is the owner of M11. The IECAA has steadfastly maintained that M11 boats are Etchells because they have a Hull Certificate and measure as Etchells.
This Interpretation establishes that these two criteria are not sufficient. The boats also have to come from a WS-approved mould.
Control of the tooling for building Etchells is the cornerstone of the Strict One-Design ethos of the Class. Control of the tooling means that when a new mould is built it undergoes a rigorous validation process, as overseen by World Sailing, to ensure that the hulls it produces are exact copies of the official Etchells shape, to within manufacturing tolerances.
This process was not followed for M11 and has resulted in boats that are not the correct shape.
The IECA recognizes that this outcome may be devastating news for owners of M11 boats. They are victims of circumstances entirely not of their making and beyond their control. Regatta results prior to this ruling will not be revisited or revised.
The IECA is aware of the damage to the Class that this situation has wrought, especially in Australia where most of the M11 boats are owned. While not seeking remedies retroactively, the IECA is committed to working with the IECAA, Pacesetter, IC, and other stakeholders to find solutions for these unfortunate boat owners.
IECA IGC Chair Andy Cumming stated in 22 January 2021 that, ‘What is left for us to determine, and is the reason that this is such a profoundly important issue for the Etchells Class, is whether or not we, as Governors representing you, the membership, are willing to abandon the strict one-design ethos that has been at the heart of the success of this Class for over 50 years.’
‘Accepting M11 as legal effectively makes us a development class. Moving to the development model would render obsolete every Etchells boat produced to date which does not come from M11.’
The IECA is in the process of communicating with stakeholders most affected by this situation, including the owners of the 25 boats that have been built to date from M11.
IECA are working with World Sailing to try to enact a temporary Rule Change that will allow M11 boats to continue to compete in regional and national regattas within Australia, provided the Australian Membership is in favour of that.